National Geographic : 2003 Aug
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA family business. "When my parents brought me back from the hospital, the first thing they did was hang a lovely mobile of big salamis above my crib," Rina says with a laugh. Many morning shoppers in the Strip have their own visceral mem ories. A few blocks from Parma, at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, the older Polish worshipers recall the day in 1935 when the banana warehouse still sitting sheepishly across the street-suddenly exploded, fracturing the chapel's turrets. "It can be dangerous," Father McKenna muses, "to use gas when you're ripening fruit." Around the corner on Penn Avenue, at Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor, owner Ray Klavon relives another neighborhood trauma. "My father was trapped on top of the parlor phone booth for an entire night during the 1936 flood," he says. "He was finally hauled through the window into a rowboat, and he wasn't a small man." By afternoon nostalgia wanes, and Tuscan hill town gives way to global village, as young urbanites start to prowl the boutiques. "The people who want the best coffee and cheese are also the kind of people who want the best decorative objects," Keneva Fecko, co-owner of Hot Haute Hot, says, pointing to a shelf of scented candles. "Hollywood," she assures me, "is all over these." The Strip's fusion act comes fully to life at night, when casual eateries like Primanti and chic restaurants like Lidia's fill up and the pierced kids outside the Rosebud dance club compare tattoos with the last of the Strip's truckers. For Lucy Sheets, a Vietnamese immigrant, the spectacle is worth her own epic hours. "I never miss one night," she says, flipping the chicken kabobs she cooks on a sidewalk grill. "Last night I was grilling until 4 a.m." As she places a new skewer on the heat, we watch the crowds: the Prada brigade bursting out of a sushi bar, a warehouse workman haul ing a crate of fruit, and what looks like Antonio heading to the bakery. It's midnight, and I'm ready to end my own day early, but Sheets is still wide-awake and cooking. "I return to Vietnam for a few months every winter," she says. But every spring she's back to catch the show. O "We're saving the world... one biscotti at a time." -LARRY LAGATTUTA Sounds of Sinatra lure patrons into a lindy hop while they wait at Enrico's Biscotti Co., where bakers make 1,200 pounds of the headliner cookies every day. "We cook, talk, dance, drink,"says owner Larry Lagattuta (above). "Sometimes pandemonium breaks out." Find more 15222 images along with field notes and resources at nationalgeo graphic.com/ngm/0308. Tell us why we should cover YOUR FAVORITE ZIP CODE at nationalgeographic .com/ngm/zipcode/0308.